Fans' love for Streisand is evergreen

March 28, 1994|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,Contributing Writer

People. People who need -- Barbra Streisand tickets. And people who get Barbra Streisand tickets think they are the luckiest people in the world.

Outside of the USAir Arena in Landover, some 500 die-hard Barbra Streisand fans were standing in line in the pouring rain and 40-degree temperatures yesterday morning.

They were waiting, hoping, praying to get a ticket to the singer's two performances at the arena May 10 and May 12. Ticket prices were costly -- $350 for the best seats up front, $50 for the last seven rows in the back and $125 for everything else. But, said Nancy Yasharoff, media relations director for the USAir Arena, tickets for the two shows sold out in just under four hours.

For Barbra -- as the faithful call her -- these fans would do anything.

Take Debbie Rubenstein, for example. She looks as though she might have been in elementary school the last time Ms. Streisand toured in 1964.

Although tickets didn't go on sale until 10:30 a.m., Ms. Rubenstein took a vacation day Friday so she could be at the arena at 11 a.m. to scope things out. She went back to the arena Saturday at 10 p.m. armed with a notebook containing important ticket-buying information, a photocopy of the arena's layout and a small baby seal stuffed animal named Faith.

She was dressed in a sweat suit and heavy jacket. Other than Faith, she had no other protection against the cold -- and later the rain.

She waited outside with about 100 other eager fans, she said, until 3 a.m. She passed the time by playing Barbra trivia games with others until arena security officials handed out ticket numbers that would determine their places in line the next morning, when tickets would officially go on sale.

Standing in line yesterday morning, she said proudly: "I drew the first ticket. This is so great."

Her friend Michael Hughes, 40, from Annandale, Va., shared her enthusiasm.

"When Barbra walks out on the stage, I think I might faint. This is a chance of a lifetime. My heart is fluttering just thinking about it. I even canceled a trip to visit my kids for this," he said.

Suddenly concerned with the remote possibility that she might not get tickets, Ms. Rubenstein confided to Mr. Hughes, "I had a dream last night that we didn't get tickets."

"Oh, I'm sure we'll get something," Mr. Hughes replied.

"Yeah, we'll probably get colds," Ms. Rubenstein said as she stood under an overhang at the arena to shield herself from the rain.

Charlie Matt, 45, of Upper Marlboro and Kathleen Harding, 27, of Centreville arrived in the early morning hours yesterday and set up camp in front of the arena's door. Ms. Matt came prepared, bringing a beach chair, warm blanket, umbrella, raincoat and magazine. Ms. Harding sat on a trash bag and listened to Barbra on her cassette player with headphones. The two women, who had not met before, became friends quickly, bonded in their adoration of Barbra.

L "Did you see 'Prince of Tides'?" Ms. Matt asked Ms. Harding.

"Loved it," Ms. Harding replied.

"And 'Yentl,' " Ms. Matt continued. Suddenly, at a loss for words, Ms. Matt could not finish her sentence and just clutched her hand to her chest and gasped. Somehow, Ms. Harding understood, nodding in agreement.

"She's a legend," Ms. Harding said.

"She's like a god," Ms. Matt said.

"She's like butter," Ms. Harding replied.

At 10:30 a.m., the first 15 ticket buyers were allowed to enter the building.

The rest were forced to wait outside. Some pressed their noses against the glass doors waiting for their turn.

"They're pulling back the curtains," one of them screamed, and the wet crowd outside cheered wildly.

Inside, at the ticket window, Ms. Rubenstein was determined to get the $350 tickets.

"I'm willing to pay you $1000 for those tickets," Ms. Rubenstein said. "I'm not kidding."

The ticket agent declined Ms. Rubenstein's offer and sold her the $350 tickets.

"I'm so happy," Ms. Rubenstein said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hughes stood in line, bouncing from one foot to the next, waiting for his turn at the ticket window.

"I'm going to die. I have to see her," he said.

Minutes later, Mr. Hughes emerged from the lobby, tickets in hand, screaming to the crowd, "I got tickets, I got tickets!" He was so excited, in fact, that he threw his arms up in the air, causing his $125 tickets to fly out of the envelope and land in a mucky rain puddle.

"Oh, no," he cried as he quickly fished the tickets out of the water. He then frantically blew on them to dry them off.

If anyone wonders why Ms. Streisand's fans are so fanatical, and why a grown man would run shrieking through a crowd of people, one fan, 25-year-old Alyson Ettman, had a simple explanation.

"I get a feeling, when I listen to her sing, that I've never felt before," she said.

"It could be the worst time in my life, but I feel better when I hear Barbra. It's just magical."

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